Thursday, July 23, 2015
Today I am grateful for the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre program. Every theater company in the country has done “Hello, Dolly”, many almost nauseatingly so. But last night! Last night we “lived” Hello, Dolly at Muhlenberg College!
From the first note, to the final leap-to-our-feet-standing-ovation, the attention to detail was take-your-breath-away startling. I don’t name names when I comment on a show because there is usually quite a gap between levels of talent and singling would cause hurt feelings and be cruel. I’m not naming names today because each and every person in the cast was dead-on to character throughout the entire production. No glitches. No. . .odd-asides to each other because we’re so far upstage no one will see us anyway. We saw. Perfection.
Dolly wasn’t Carol Channing. She wasn’t Barbra Streisand. She was DOLLY! Full-out! And she was fantastic, bringing a freshness and twinkle to the character that warmed your soul like the aroma of hot homemade bread and butter in grandma’s kitchen! All equity actors are not equal, but this woman was a testament to proper training, control, a perfect sense of timing and pure, raw talent.
Other leads and supporting characters had a lot to measure up to. . .and they did. Beautifully. Even the shapely-legged horse! The show stopping number, and to say it was the best when all of them were so damned good is a stretch. . .was the waiters in Harmonia Gardens. Broadway! In Allentown, PA. Seriously. . .Broadway!
I’m theater folk. I look at everything. Not a set piece, costume, prop, or change of lighting misses my attention. If a shoe isn’t tied or a hem is drooping, I notice. The costumes of both men and women were perfect. Even the shoes. The fabrics and colors and hats. . .oh yes, the HATS. . .were works of art. I’d have liked to see some pantalets when the girls kicked full out, but I’m a stickler for appropriate underwear. Are you getting cavities yet? Wait for it.
For me a show can be made or broken by clumsy, cumbersome set changes that drag on forever. The set in this production of “Dolly” was a study unto itself. I must have counted thirty different shades of tans, yellows, browns and oranges in Vandergelders store alone. Then to morph out of that into the lavender, purple and rose hues as the story progressed and finish with the bold, deep purples, maroons, reds and golds in Harmony Gardens was brilliant. Everything went on the same ride, costumes, hats, lighting, set colors and we the audience, all blending like no family I ever met. I wanted to be a bug on the wall backstage and watch the rapid-fire costume changes and twirling set pieces. Mind boggling.
I didn’t want to leave the theater. I wanted to go see exactly how they managed to do huge set changes, while a musical number was going on and then bring an entirely new location out without me realizing it happened. I was paying attention, yet I missed it each time. What is on the back of that wagon? If they turned that is it the booth in the restaurant? Who ever thought of starting a scene at the outside of the hat shop and spinning it around with the actor on the wagon, so that the interior was ready for the next scene? And when they took all of those set pieces off where in the world did they put them? It was magic. I was captivated.
You won’t find a better director, choreographer, musical director, scenic designer, costume designer, lighting designer, sound designer, conductor, production stage manager, orchestra and, oh-by-the-way. . .CAST anywhere! Not even Broadway. You only have a few more days so call for your tickets immediately. Box Office – 484-664-3333! Sit on the steps. . or stand if you have to, but don’t miss “Hello, Dolly” at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.